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For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39

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Life is hard.  Many of us have been through some things in recent months. I have grieved the loss of my mother, a dear friend’s loss of her sister and another dear friend who just this week lost her mother.  In addition to the loss of loved ones, there are other griefs we bear. Some we share and some we hold close in our heart hoping to shield them from prying eyes. In the midst of our hurt, we don’t’ always feel like giving thanks or celebrating.

At least lately that has been my story.  But God is faithful and he is holy. He is worthy of our trust in any and all circumstances. He is worthy of our praise and thanksgiving.  He alone is worthy.

So, today, on the eve of Thanksgiving and the weeks of Christmas preparation that this season ushers in I felt the need to utter a petition on our behalf.

Dear Heavenly Father,

You, above all, are faithful and Holy. 

Hold us close to your bosom and whisper your peace into our souls.

We are weary and battered from our travels; our steps falter under loads we were not meant to bear.

We lay our burdens at your feet asking humbly that you take the weight off our shoulders; steady us and walk alongside. 

Shield us from the fiery darts flung carelessly our way; Intercept them and render them useless to be used for harm.

We seek your wisdom and guidance; Lead us ever gently along the path you have designed.

We stand before you with open arms ready to receive, with gratitude, all that you bestow.

Wrap us in your love and let it overflow so that we may gift it to others.

With thankful hearts in the name of Jesus, we entreat your mercies. 

Amen.

 

If you haven’t read the 31 Day Series, A Journey Through Grief and would like to you can click here to be taken to the table of contents page.  

Grace for the journey,

Teresa

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We Hold On To Joy

Because of the Lord’s great love, we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.

Lamentations 3:22-23

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When last we spoke, well when last I wrote and you read which is still a conversation between friends, I shared with you that I wanted to do a recap post of the 31 Days of Grief Journey.  I wanted to share what I had gleaned.  I had planned to do that sooner than now but last week proved to be a week of needing extra rest. I’ve learned, due to the MCTD, to hold on loosely to plans and go with the flow.  I think, too, that I needed some extra time to let the writing settle before revisiting.

So, earlier I sat down and read through the series to see what stood out to me.  To discover what wisdom there might be that I could take away. To see what helped me and how can I summarize that for all of us as a take away to remember; knowing of course, that the journey is not over and there are more stores, memories, and lessons in the process. And of course, the ever-present grief will ebb and flow. Below is a list of 12 truths that I received from this journey.

  • Writing through my grief was designed by God; It was a calling he put on my heart (1 Thessalonians 5:24).
  • Grief is a process and it can’t be rushed. There will be times it will crush your heart (Psalm 31:18).
  • Even when we feel betrayed by God, he loves us and understands our hurt. He will make all things right in his time (Isaiah 55:8-9).
  • We can never truly lose our loved ones, they will always live in our hearts.  Remembering is necessary.  Our memories of good times with our loved ones is a source of comfort (Philippians 1:3).
  • Having a community of friends and family for support in our grief is important (Proverbs 27:9).
  • In the midst of our grief life does go on.  We can still find joy and laughter.  We can find peace in ordinary days (Psalm 23:1).
  • The floodgates will open sooner or later. Our tears are sacred and Jesus cares about them; they are collected in his bottle (Psalm 56:8).
  • Reading Scripture can be a source of strength. Remembering his promises can sustain us (Isaiah 40:31).
  • He will be our comfort (Isaiah 63:13, Matthew 5:4).
  • If we sit in the stillness we will feel his peace (Philippians 4:7).
  • we have to live in the reality of heaven’s sweetness in order to truly be at peace in this life (Hebrews 13:14, Psalm 30:11-12).
  • Christ is our only hope (John 3:16).

Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning. Psalm 30:5b

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Joy resides deep in our soul.  Grief is not the absence of joy, but the realization that even when we grieve we hold on to joy.  Joy is not crushed by our grief but rather sustains us in our grief.

The joy of the Lord is your strength. Nehemiah 8:10

Thank you for coming along on this journey with me.  I hope it has touched your heart and brought you encouragement.  If you have not read the series you can click here to be taken to the table of contents page.  Once there, clicking on each title will take you to that day’s post. I will continue to share updates on the grief journey and share stories about my Mom from time to time as well as sharing other writings.  I hope you come back. I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

Grace for the journey,

Teresa

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Linking up with Emily for What we Learned.  Click over to read what others’ have learned.

The City That Is to Come

For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come.       Hebrews 13:14 ESV

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VISION

My heart is overwhelmed with sadness and grief

My soul cannot bear it alone

Lifes storms are too great for my steadfast feet

My spirit is sinking – I’m almost gone

But someone is reaching to take my burden away

He has a spirit of kindness and love

His touch has vanished the night into day

I’m light and free as the dove

He draws me nearer and nearer to his heavenly throne

and let’s me see visions of that city fair

I fancy I see loved ones perfectly at home

Basking in the sunshine of his presence – God’s son!

Written by

Letha Bernice Tackett

April 3, 1982

I wrote on Day 3 That Heaven’s Sounding Sweeter All the Time. I remember the night I first had those thoughts.  I was cocooned in the upstairs room that my Mom had wallpapered so beautifully.  I was waiting for sleep to come and thoughts flooded my mind and I spoke them into my phone app so I wouldn’t forget them.

In those moments if Jesus had said come I would have gone gladly.  Honestly, I think in those moments the reality of heaven spread over me in a way it never had before.

It is beginning to dawn on me that we have to live in the reality of heaven’s sweetness in order to truly be at peace in this life. We don’t really belong to this world if we are in Christ; We are just pilgrims passing through.

Click to hear the song, Heaven’s Sounding Sweeter All The Time

 

Grace for the Journey,

Teresa

Clicking on the ladybug graphic will take you to the first page in this series with links to the daily posts. Thanks for reading!

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POSTSCRIPT:

Thank you so much for reading along with me on this grief journey.  I have many more stories to share when the time is right, but for now, if you will grant me grace, I am going to stop shy of the 31 days.  I will be spending the day Saturday with a dear friend and then going home to spend a few days with my Dad.

I will probably take next week off, then when I’m back home I want to do a recap of what the past few weeks have taught me about my grief journey.  I am not naive enough to think that I can write for a few days and be over the grief.  Grief is an ongoing journey and once you have had a great loss it will always be with you, so I’m sure there will be many things to discover going forward.

I will be back to share more stories of my Mom, family, and other things.  I hope that you will stick around and continue reading.  I hope you have found hope and encouragement during this series.  I know you have been a tremendous encouragement to me.  Many of you have been gracious to tell me and that has been a blessing.

I hope you have enjoyed the poems of my mother’s that I have shared with you.  If they bring you comfort you are free to share but please make sure you credit them to her.  I’m hoping to find a way to publish all her poems in a collection.  I think that would please her very much.  She was a wonderful, creative, caring person and I want to pass her legacy on to her family and friends.

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Collected Tears

 

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Journal: Saturday, October 20, 2018

Today was a day of crying and praying and missing my Mom. Of all the people in the world that I can talk to and tell anything, she was always the one I could be the freest with. The one I could count on to comfort me and pray for me; to love me and forgive me when needed. So today was just a day that I really wish I could talk to her. Some days I miss her so much. I need her love, wisdom, thoughtfulness, and care. I know there will always be days like today and it won’t be easy but I know God can be my comfort. I can go to him.  I can take him my heart; I can ask for strength.  He is faithful.  He loves me even more than my mother.

I miss my Ladybug and our late night talks; our inside jokes and laughter; our trips to the Dairy Queen when we’d sneak off without telling the guys; The drives we took in the country when we were restless. I miss all of it. I love her so much. 

You keep track of all my sorrows.
    You have collected all my tears in your bottle.
    You have recorded each one in your book.                                                               Psalm 56:8 NLT

One of the things I miss the most is talking to my Mom.  Before the Alzheimer’s took so much away from her we would talk constantly. I’d call her or she’d call me and we’d talk about everything and nothing in particular.

Even after the Alzheimer’s I’d call home, Dad would answer the phone but I’d always ask to talk to Mom.  Sometimes she’d talk a while, other times she’d have trouble with the phone. Eventually, she pretty much gave up talking on the phone.

I missed our talks even while she was still living.  There were times I’d tell her things knowing that she didn’t fully comprehend, or remember later, but at the moment she’d try to let me know all would be well.

A few months before she died we had a wonderful conversation about forgiveness.  I’d recently been short with her.  I told her that I was wrong and hadn’t treated her as kindly as I should have.  We talked about forgiveness in general and what it means and I asked her if she would forgive me.  She ever so sweetly said yes she would.  Even though she probably didn’t remember the incident in question and probably didn’t remember our conversation later, at that moment she understood my need to ask forgiveness and she sincerely, without question granted it. Much like she had several years earlier when I had needed to ask for forgiveness. (you can read about that time here)

Growing up, forgiveness always flowed freely. If Mom and I had had a particularly trying day as can sometimes happen, she always made sure before bed that all was well between us.  We would talk things out and I always knew she was there for me.  Even as a small child I remember kneeling beside her to pray about whatever was troubling me. Being the melancholy child that I was it seemed I was always needing to pray or talk about something.

That did not change as a teenager.  We had lots of adventures together.  I remember one summer or two that she spent a lot of time driving me around the countryside chasing a dream of a piano player (not Rocky, that came later) that I thought I was in love with. I also remember having many late night conversations about boys, dreams, life.  It was nothing to stay up until the crack of dawn talking. Even after I had married and moved away from home, we always had at least one all-night talk session when I’d come for visits.  Rocky and Dad would come downstairs of a morning and there we’d be still sitting on the couch.

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One of our adventures at a camp meeting in the mountains of Eastern KY during one of those summers chasing a piano player. The photo bomber also had a daughter, probably chasing the same piano player.

Later, when Rocky came on the scene I wrote her a letter telling her that I was in love and I knew he was the one.  I was in college and cell phones and Facebook didn’t exist, so you either made a long distance call or wrote a letter.  I found that letter last year when going through some of her things. She had kept it all these years. I know my Mama’s level of sentimentality and I know she hung onto that letter to mark a significant time in my life that she rejoiced in with me.

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Rocky and me the early years. Mom always said she couldn’t love him more if he was her son. The minute he came on the scene, he was family and she never let me forget that. She was always on his side. Sigh. I’m glad she loved him that fiercely.

I’ve always shared my everyday life with her.  Each new adventure, each crisis, everyday moments. It was all chronicled with her. And she never failed to cheer me on or commiserate when necessary.  Every new move she was there helping and planning with me even when it took me too far from home.  She never tried to hold me back, but always rejoiced at each new opportunity.

She did tell me, as she grew older, that she missed her daughters and wished they could both move back home. She once offered to give my sister her house if she’d move back home. And my mom really loved her house. She is now buried on the hill facing her house. When Rocky and I moved to Louisville in 2007 she was glad we were closer. She and Dad would come to visit and we would go see them when we could.

In 2010 when we went in with Dad to purchase the house next door to them she was excited for us to fix up the house and be there on breaks, but before we could spend much time there the Alzheimer’s was fast approaching. When we moved there in the summer of 2012 between the seminary and whatever was to come next, it was clear that Alzheimer’s had set in and we were needed.  I know it was a God thing that we had decided to buy the house two years prior when it didn’t really make sense to do so. We had no long-term plans of settling back home once schooling was finished, but home was exactly where we needed to be.

Living there was as it should be.  Mom was restless a lot and had lots of questions about everything in the early days.  She would come to my house for reassurance or sometimes just to chat a moment.  The door was always open for her and sometimes she’d be back and forth several times a day.  We’d have the same conversations, mostly with her trying to make sense of the muddle in her mind.  Memoires were hiding and bits and pieces would show up and she’d need me to help her make sense of it all.  She trusted me and I did all I could to honor that trust.

Even in the difficulty of living with Alzheimer’s, we had some good times and lots of laughter.  I wouldn’t trade those days for anything.  But sometimes I’d miss our old conversations.  The last couple of months before she passed away there were several times I’d think I need to call Mom only to immediately remember that things were different.  I went through a spell in the summer of nesting and tweaking my living room, buying lamps and finally hanging pictures.  All the things I would have discussed with Mom.  So, I called my Dad and shared with him.  I suppose I could have told mom, but I knew it wouldn’t be the same and I also knew that she might not even engage at all on the phone.  I wish I’d tried anyway.

Since her passing, I have had several times where I wish I could talk to her or something will happen and my first thought is to call Mom.  I’ve needed so much to hear her words of wisdom, comfort, and encouragement. I’ve needed to laugh with her. There are times that you just need your mother because no one understands you like she does. In those times I remind myself that God can comfort me and that he truly understands.

I cling to all the hope, dry my eyes, and do my best to live life without my Ladybug.

There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love. ~~ Washington Irving

Another song for you to listen to, For Those Tears I Died

Grace for the journey,

Teresa

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My mom, the cheerleader (8th grade, Mt. Carmel) standing by the fence in front of their church turned house where they lived in Beechburg, KY.
This home is now a garage and
my best friend recently purchased the property.
My Mom has always been my biggest cheerleader.

Come back tomorrow for more of the journey?  Just a reminder that I usually post later in the day. Clicking on the ladybug graphic will take you to the first page in this series with links to the daily posts. Thanks for reading!

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Pause

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Hello.  It’s late and I’m oh so weary.  I’m taking day 25 off.  Sometimes in the midst of your grief, you need to hit pause and just let it be.  So today I hit pause.  I went to dinner with my Sunday School class and had a much needed time of fellowship.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28 NIV

Peace In the Valley sung by Elvis Presley says it best and brings me comfort as it is a song Mom and I listened to sometimes.

Maybe it will bring you comfort too. (click the above words if you want to listen)

Hopefully, I’ll be back on track tomorrow.

If you are new around here I’ve been participating in the Write 31 Days Challenge and this is day 25. You can click on the Ladybug graphic below if you’d like to read the series about my Journey Through Grief.

Clicking on the ladybug graphic will take you to the first page in this series with links to the daily posts. Thanks for reading!

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Grace for the Journey,

Teresa

Truth, Love and Praying Hard

And I Pray Hard

 

I’m in a mood today. Not even gonna lie or pretend it’s not so.  So many things in this crazy world boggle my mind and make me angry.  Why can’t we just all get along.  That is a rhetorical question so no need to answer unless of course, you have the final answer. Which I’m pretty sure doesn’t exist seeing as how we are all people with opinions.

As my husband often says, opinions are like belly buttons everybody has one. But, you know what?  God’s opinion is the only one that matters and we better be paying attention to what he says.  

Bombs sent in the mail, a shooting at one of our local Krogers, Politicians trying to out-yell each other, unborn babies being killed, people changing who God created them to be, and whatever else you want to add to the list.  I usually go about my day acknowledging that these things exist and that we live in an imperfect world and I understand that we will not see perfection this side of heaven.  I am thankful that I don’t have to school the world, that is God’s job.  And he will in his time make all things right.  I hope we are ready.

So, most days I take it in stride, trust and carry on, knowing that God is in control. But somedays, like today I’m just not in the mood to keep it to myself.  So, you dear friend, are getting to see the flip side.

I know this thirty-one days of writing is about grief, specifically the grief of losing my mother.  But, in the midst of grieving my loss, living in the world does go on and I can tell you that this world certainly causes me grief too.  I hope it sometimes causes you grief as well. That’s how we know we care. That’s how we know we need to search for God’s truth and stand on it. That’s how we know that sometimes we must speak even if it’s not popular.

One thing I remember well about my Mama.  She would not tolerate injustice. She did not make excuses for sin And she would tell you the truth and put you in your place quicker than you could scat out of her way. Ask me how I know.

She always told the truth and she didn’t pat you on the back and tell you everything was ok if it wasn’t. If you were setting yourself up for consequences she would tell you to build a bigger barn for all that you were about to reap. But, she did it in Love.  Oh, she might be heated in the moment; she might be in a mood and she might rant a little and cause you to roll your eyes and sigh real deep, but she always made sure you knew you were loved. That’s how we knew she cared.  She cared enough to tell us the truth and raise us right. And we better honor that teaching and make her proud.

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.      3 John 1:4 NIV

So, today in the spirit of my dearly beloved Mama I come to you in a mood. I am telling you that it is time to get your house in order and get your priorities straight. It is time to quit making excuses for the injustices of this world and our own sin because if we keep making excuses we are going to need a barn the likes of which we have never seen before. 

If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. 1 John 1:6 NIV

I hope you read between the lines and know that it comes from a deep place of passion for people to see the truth from God’s viewpoint.  I do have opinions; it is more than possible that my opinions are not always right. But I do know that God is sovereign, he makes many things crystal clear in his word and I think it’s time we wake up and listen to what he says.

It is also possible that all I’ve been through the past couple of months has made me realize that life is too short to hide behind weak excuses for making wrong choices and eye winks of acceptance at things that are clearly out of sync with God’s precepts. If we are Christians like so many of us say we are on social media, then it’s time we step up to the plate and do it God’s way.  It’s time we ask him what comes next and then listen for him to tell us. That is how my Mama lived; she spent a lot of time on her knees crying out to God.  She wasn’t perfect, but she was his and she lived her life standing on truth.

And by all means, Love should always be the foundation.  We can have our mood moments, but at the end of the day, we need to make sure those we are in contact with know that Love is the foundation it is all built on. Not a love that waters down the truth but a love that comes along beside and walks together in the right direction. A love that does not shrink from standing on the truth.

Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. 1 John 3:18 NV

Grace for the journey,

Teresa

 

Postscript:

I have not slept well the past few nights and that sometimes puts me on the dark side.  Also, in the spirit of confession, I was quite put out today because my mail person stuffed a book in my PO box so tight I couldn’t get it out.  It made me angrier than it should have considering the circumstances and in light of so many other things that are more important.  Thankfully, I have put that in perspective and am ok.  Tomorrow all will be made right on that count and I’ll have my book. At least I hope.

In the spirit of further confession, after reading this post I waffle between posting or not because it might come off a little harsh and preachy.  But, I think I’ll let it stand as it is; raw, authentic emotion that erupted in the middle of my grief journey.

Two things: one, after reading it back I realize I need this sermon as much as anyone else, so maybe it is God’s message to me to not be complacent. Two, I am not meaning to offend anyone because “as much as possible I try to live peaceably with all men” (women too).  I apologize if  my words offend you, but if they do, I would ask that you ask why? Maybe I have hit a nerve that requires further examination.  I know I have hit some of my nerves.

As always thank you for reading.  I love all of you and wish you well.

One more thing.  Today’s post is not exactly pretty, so I thought maybe the words don’t need a picture.  Then I remembered the picture of a graveyard I took and the graphic I made that says And I Pray Hard.  I decided that picture or at least the message was just the reminder we all need. To pray hard.

 

Come back tomorrow for more of the journey?  Just a reminder that I usually post later in the day. Clicking on the ladybug graphic will take you to the first page in this series with links to the daily posts. Thanks for reading!

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Spread Happiness

The most simple things can bring the most happiness.  ~~ Izabella Scorupco

One of the things that my Grandmother, Mom and  I have in common is the love of rocks and other bits and pieces of nature. When organizing Mom’s antique secretary after she passed away I ran across a bowl of leaves.  I left them there.  I inadvertently threw away a dried up piece of twig that she had brought in from the yard just a few days before she passed away.  My father was looking for it but I had already cleaned the sideboard and thrown it away not realizing what it was or that he wanted to hang on to it.

My niece remembered as a child that she and my nephew would pick the little wild field daisies and dandelions and bring them to my mom.  I remember many times seeing them in little containers on the sink or table as a reminder of a happy day well spent with the grandkids.  In honor of those memories, they sent a beautiful wreath of daisies for her memorial service. Those flowers then and now are far more precious than diamonds or rubies.

I know it’s sentimental really to hang on to such seemingly trivial bits and pieces but sometimes it is the small things that invoke a tender memory or happy thought of our loved ones.

My mother has two large rocks that belonged to her mother.  One of them came from a long-ago trip to Arizona and I’m not sure where the other one came from but it is large, round, brown and smooth.  I remember seeing that rock at my grandmother’s when I was a child, leaning against a door to prop it open. My mother almost gave it to me once, but then changed her mind. I’m glad she kept it to enjoy, I’m sure seeing it reminded her of her mother and her love of rocks and other bits of nature.

One of the days we were at Hospice  I found a painted rock that had been left outside near the front entry. It was painted in shades of green and blue, colors that Mom would have loved. It had a message painted on it that said spread happiness. A  fitting message for someone who had spent her life spreading happiness to others. I brought it inside for her room.

I don’t know If you have heard about the painted rock sensation that has been around now for a few years; it is a group of people that paint rocks with messages and leave them in public places for others to find. It originated with a woman in Massachusetts who started the Kindness Rocks Movement. She started a trend that has gone worldwide and there are several smaller groups that have cropped up as well, all doing basically the same thing.  There is a group in the community where our Hospice was located, called Maysville KY hidden rocks.

The premise is that you find a rock, enjoy it and then rehide it for someone else to discover.if you decide to keep the rock that is ok too.  But you are encouraged to paint your own rock to hide.

Knowing my mom’s love of rocks my Dad put it in her hand and told her about the rock. He let her hold it for quite a while and then he placed it on the table beside her bed. When I told him about the history of painted rocks he decided he wanted to keep this one since it was the last thing that my mom held.  When he got back home, he put it on the back porch near where they would sit as a reminder of her.

Moms painted rock, picture takne by Pamela Smith and shared on Maysville rocks FB page
Moms painted rock, the picture was taken and shared on Maysville KY hidden rocks Facebook page. The lady who took the photo had seen the rock and took a picture, but left the rock for someone else to find. So glad she did as it brought happiness to our day. It was leaning against the trash can just before the main entrance to Hospice at Kenton Pointe.

I guess we are a sentimental bunch and many would roll their eyes at keeping rocks, leaves, wildflowers, also known as weeds, and other bits of nature, but that’s how we roll. It’s not the expensive things or material possessions that mean the most in the end.  It’s the simple things, more often than not from nature, that spark our greatest sentimentality and spread happiness.

Happy are the people whose God is the Lord! Psalm 144:15

Grace for the journey,

Teresa

Moms painted rock, picture takne by Pamela Smith and shared on Maysville rocks FB page

Postscript:  I had a conversation on FB earlier with the lady who posted the picture of the rock we found. Turns out she had seen my Mom back in February when Mom had been on a Hospice respite and had talked with her. She told me she would lead her back to the nurse’s station when Mom seemed confused.  That was a blessing to find out that someone had been so kind to her. I would never have known that if I hadn’t decided to look for the origin of the rock. God always sends us the blessing we need at the time we need them. How’s that for spreading happiness!

Blessings!

 

Come back tomorrow for more of the journey?  Just a reminder that I usually post later in the day. Clicking on the ladybug graphic will take you to the first page in this series with links to the daily posts. Thanks for reading!

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