Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Confession 12: The Art of Active Listening

Some days, I just don't feel like going to church. I'm tired, or I have other things to get done, or I just like the quiet Sunday mornings bring. Some days, getting my son and myself together and to church on time and in the right attitude to worship is just too much. My mother always said that the devil works extra hard on Sunday mornings, and I've found this statement to be very true. This Sunday was one of those mornings for me. My husband and I were just settling in to a new home after a whirlwind move with an eight month old who was battling both an ear and upper respiratory infection. Our son and I were going to the eleven o'clock service so I could hear my husband preach, and our son could enjoy some quality time with the childcare providers in the nursery. As luck would have it, our son decided that 10:30 would be a great time for a nap, so he settled down to take what he thought would be a nice long one. My first thought was, "Why didn't he do this an hour ago?!" Followed by, "Great! What a perfect opportunity to unpack! Surely I can listen to Chris's sermon on tape later." This thought was quickly replaced by the guilt of my good Baptist upbringing (the Catholics have nothing on the Baptists when it comes to guilt) and I begrudgingly readied myself and my son for church.

We were late, of course, and I was rushing. I finally found a seat after the choir cleared the entryway to the sanctuary and sat down to worship, kind of. Mostly I just looked around the sanctuary and thought about all of the nice homes other people lived in that weren't full of mold and asbestos and that they didn't have to abandon in the course of four days. I tuned back into the service only to find that we were singing "Shout to the Lord", one of the music director's favorites that he always conducts at a tempo fit for a funeral dirge. Tempted to walk out, I remained in my seat and tried to focus "on things above." As the service wore on, I noticed that all of the songs were songs we were singing were songs of praise and thanksgiving. "Hmm.." I thought. "Could God be trying to tell me something?" This thought set off a furious debate inside my mind. On the one hand, my attitude stunk and was in serious need of a major adjustment. On the other hand, my attitude stunk and I didn't feel like adjusting it. Besides, if God really wanted to say something to me, wouldn't he find a better way of communicating than praise songs and choir anthems sung five times too slow?

I intended to stay in my seat and pout through the time of prayer, instead of going to the communion rail like most weeks. However, as I saw my husband stepping down from the stage to the railing, I felt compelled to join him. This is our time of worship together, and brief as it may be, it's precious time for both of us. As I kneeled down at the communion rail, I heard God more clearly. It was time to stop being stubbornly selfish, wallowing in self-pity. I needed to actively listen.

My husband's sermon was a biography of John Wesley, the "accidental founder of Methodism", as my husband stated. In this sermon, my husband spoke from the viewpoint of John Wesley, and for the first time that morning, I actively listened. As John Wesley's life story spilled out before me, I realized that I had endured no great hardship this past week. I was inconvenienced, nothing more. My attitude was ungrateful and selfish, and not at all what I was, and am, called to be. John Wesley spent his entire life working to minister to the needs of others and to bring everyone he could into the fellowship of Christ. He placed the needs of others above even his own, and gave all that he had to the poor around him, despite actual hardship and some inconvenience to himself. In actively listening to my husband's sermon, I realized that there was a bigger picture which I was forgetting during my little pity party. The party's over. Let the work begin.

Blessings to all,

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Confession 11: Our Humble Abode

My husband, Chris, and I found out last night that we will probably be moving out of our home on Saturday and into another living establishment as yet to be determined. This wasn't quite a shock. We've had mold issues in our house for awhile and recently insisted that the church do an air quality inspection to see how bad it actually was. This came about after Chris had bronchitis for the third time this year and his doctor told him that mold could be to blame. Needless to say, the air quality report did not come back with good news. Not only did it show a high level of mold in the house, but inspectors discovered asbestos tape lining the duct work. That got the trustees attention. A committee was quickly formed and they determined that it was best for us to just vacate the premises.

Initially, Chris and I were hesitant to move out of our home. There is a high possibility we will only be there another four months. And, after three years, what more damage could be done? In thinking about it, however, us moving out now would give the church time to really evaluate the damage to the house and do something about it before the next pastor would arrive. Moving now would also give Chris and I the chance to get some things packed up and stored away before our big move in June. So, all in all, it's a situation I'm o.k. with. More importantly, I am grateful that the church has the ability to move us to a safer, healthier place, and the means to do it so quickly.

I saw a report on Good Morning America this morning on the number of people in the Gulf Coast region who still have not been able to re-build after losing everything in hurricane Katrina. Many are still waiting on or fighting for settlements from insurance companies that are looking for loopholes in policies so as not to pay for all the damage done. People throughout Mississippi and Louisiana have been living in FEMA trailers for over 18 months now, and my husband and I will be able to move from one home into another within 4 days. I have nothing to complain about. Therefore, I am very grateful for our humble abode, wherever it may be.

Many Blessings,

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Confession 10: Crazy Little Thing Called Love

Valentine's Day is one of my favorite holidays, despite my husband's insistence that it is a manufactured holiday created by Hallmark and Russell Stover's to sell more products. Although this may be true, I don't particularly care. Valentine's Day is pink, fluffy, chocolat-y, and all about love. I love love. Check out my list of favorite books and movies, and you'll see. Just the word, love, gives me a warm fuzzy feeling inside. Yet, as I look around at all of the advertisements and special products for sale around Valentine's Day, I can't help but think we've missed the point a bit. Love is not just a romantic sentiment, a fluttery feeling one has for someone else. Love is not just the feeling of contentment that comes from spending time with close friends and family. Love is not just the moments of happiness we experience when we share our lives with others. Much as I hate to admit it at times, love is not just warm and fuzzy. Love, real love, goes much deeper than that.

1st Corinthians says that love is patient and kind, it does not envy nor does it boast. Love bears all things and is not self-seeking. Love never fails.

Colossians tells us that love is placed over all other virtues and binds them all in perfect unity.

John 3 states that God loved the world so much he sent his son to die so that all could be united with him.

Matthew 22 says that true love is loving a neighbor as much as we love ourselves, while Romans 8 tells us that nothing in heaven or on earth can separate us from the love of God which is found in Christ.

Proverbs 20 states that love is what keeps a king secure on his throne, and Song of Songs declares love to be better than wine and as strong as death.

In Luke 6 Jesus maintains that in order to really love, one must learn to love one's enemies, going so far as to give a thief that which he would steal-- to give up what is rightfully yours.

Obviously, love is not just warm and fuzzy.

The early Christians celebrated what became known as a "love feast". It was a time of fellowship among believers in which wine and bread would be shared and the poor would be included. It later became the traditional Eucharist celebration, in which we remember God's sacrifice of love for the world. At the end of the love, or agape feast, the early Christians would impart to one another the kiss of peace. The Romans, in an attempt to persecute the Christians, accused the Christians of participating in orgies and mocked them by saying, "Look at how these Christians love." Yet, throughout their trials and tribulations, the early Christians continued to love. We, as contemporary Christians, are called to show that same love to a world in need. There is a quote from Martin Luther King Jr. I found last year that has stayed with me. He states that: "Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love."

Love is action. Real love moves us beyond ourselves to act on behalf of others. Real love teaches us that there are things more important than what we spend most of our days worrying about. Real love forgives the faults of others. Real love calls us to be aware of the situations in the world which cause others pain, grief, despair and humiliation. Real love challenges us to stand up for what is right, and to speak up when we see wrong being done. Real love seeks peace.

We, as Christians, need to act in such a way that makes those around us say, "Wow! Look at how those Christians love!!" We can do this in many ways, both small and large. We can bring food to someone who is sick or grieving. We can visit those who are homebound. We can adopt a family in need at Christmas, or hold a food drive for an organization like Harvesters Food Pantry (http://www.harvesters.org/). We can host voter registration drives at our churches, or open the doors of our church for organizations like AA to meet. Our church annually helps to sponsor a Habitat for Humanity house (http://www.habitat.org/), providing both money and laborers to build a home for someone in need. Many churches sponsor mission trips both locally and internationally. The United Methodist Church, specifically, has a program called Volunteers in Missions in which thousands of people serve annually (http://www.umvim.org/). My husband and I have, for the past two years, given gifts to our family from Heifer Project International (http://www.heifer.org/), which promotes sustainable living in Third World Countries. We have also become involved with the Nothing But Nets campaign started by sports writer Rick Reilly which provides mosquito nets to people in need throughout malaria-ridden parts of Africa (http://www.nothingbutnets.net/). My husband is working with the senior pastor at his church to do a net drive during March Madness. Thanks to the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation, $10 will get two nets to people whose lives are at risk from disease.

Love is not just warm and fuzzy. Love can change a life. "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few." (Matthew 9:27) How will you love today?

Blessings and Peace,

Monday, February 12, 2007

Confession 9: The Things I've Learned From Zoloft

I've been taking Zoloft on and off for the past eight months. I initially began taking it after my son was born when I was struggling with some major "baby blues". I stopped taking it about a month after I went back to work, a little earlier than my doctor recommended, and found that I just wasn't ready to cope with life unmedicated yet. So, I went back to my 25 mg a day. This past week I pulled myself off the medication again. It wasn't really intentional, I just forgot to take if for a few days and thought, maybe this is a sign that I don't need it anymore. So far, so good. Yet, I've learned a lot about myself through the experience of anti-depressants.

First, I've learned that I am an extremely emotional person. People have told me this in the past and I've always stubbornly denied it. I've created a stigma around the idea of being emotional. It's a stigma of weakness and of being out of control. (The older I get, the more I realize how much of an issue control is for me.) I equate being emotional to being out of control, and being out of control is something that is not acceptable to me. Therefore, I resolutely refused to acknowledge the fact that I am an emotional person. I realize now, of course, that this is ridiculous. One can be an emotional person and still have emotional control. Feelings are just that, feelings. They don't define who we are, how we're perceived, or even how we behave. If I cry it's not because I'm out of control, it's because my body needs some emotional release and rejuvenation. If I throw an unbaked potato across the yard because the grill is out of gas it's not because I've lost control of my senses, but because my frustration needs a harmless vent. God made many different parts of the human brain. I can be emotional and still use the rest of them.

Second, taking Zoloft has allowed me to see that I am someone who gets easily frustrated. Looking back at my life, I see it's always been like this. I threw huge temper tantrums until I was at least five. My husband might argue that I still do (see the above potato incident). I want things to be a certain way and when they're not, I get frustrated. It's a common problem many people have, but the true test of character lies in how we deal with it. This is something I need to continue to work on. If I'm frustrated with something I can change, (messy house) then I should change it. If I'm frustrated with something I have no control over, (traffic) I should let it go. I feel like I'm getting to a place of peace in my life where I am better able to do that. But, it's a work in progress.

Third, Zoloft has taught me that I need to trust and have faith in myself and the wisdom and insight God has given me. One of the most frustrating things that happened to my husband after our son was born was that I stopped making decisions. I looked to him to figure out everything, and it was just too much. Old anxiety issues came creeping back in and I started to lose a sense of my own self-sufficiency and self-worth. Essentially, I lost my confidence. You can't accomplish anything without confidence. I've been slowly gaining that back, but it's hard after a life-changing event.

As much as I hate to admit it, Zoloft has helped me a lot with these issues. It's been good for the transition into new motherhood. I feel very much at peace, although I'm not sure how much credit the Zoloft gets for that. The issue of taking an anti-depressant for me is that it doesn't change the way I am. It doesn't make me less of an emotional person, it just pushes the emotions down. It doesn't make the need for control which leaves me frustrated go away, it just calms the frustration. It doesn't instill confidence within me. This is who I am. This is who I always have been. These are issues that will always be with me. I can continue to take a pill, or I can deal with them. Right now, I'm ready to deal.

Blessings and Peace,

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Confession 8: Calming the Road Warrior

Automobiles, in my opinion, have been the downfall of our civilized society. I think about this often as I commute to and from work. People are mean when they drive. Common courtesy is thrown out the window and replaced by a waving finger. There is a fierce individuality among American drivers. The idea of my car turns into the idea of my road which then becomes my right of way all the time. There is a sense of entitlement among many drivers in which reaching their destination becomes more important than anyone else. These notions of individuality and entitlement behind the steering wheel have given birth to the problem of road rage which plagues our many streets and highways. I must confess that many days, I myself contribute to this problem. Not a commute goes by where I don't curse another driver who I feel is encroaching on my space or preventing me from reaching my destination in a timely manner. I have been known to wave my middle finger at drivers I feel are exceptionally rude to me and my little Jetta. I have run through more orange lights than I care to admit because I don't feel like I should have to wait. And I am always driving at least 10 mph over the speed limit.

I'm not proud of this behavior-- it doesn't make me feel good, or strong, or right in any way. I tell myself over and over again that I'm going to do better, that I'm not going to rush, that I'm going to be nice, but when I get in the car and begin to drive, something else takes over. It's like a Disney cartoon I watched as a child in which Goofy played a calm, caring family man who suddenly turned into a maniac when he got behind the wheel of the car. I'm Goofy. I've tried to discern many times where the anger comes from. Lack of patience alone can't explain the rage I feel at times when I'm driving. It's probably wrapped up in my need to control situations and, yes, feelings of entitlement. It's frustrating because I know better. I have higher expectations for myself than the behavior which manifests itself when I drive. I don't want to be like those drivers around me who are barreling angrily down the road. I don't want to be mad when I get to work or when I get home because I've been driving defensively and aggressively. Something has to change, not just in me, but in all of us road warriors out there.

There are steps that I can take to curb my driving aggression. I try and remember to pray before I take off for work or for home. However, prayer alone does not always do the trick. A good friend of mine once told me that God doesn't always just take away the things we struggle with in our personalities, but keeps them there for us to work through so that we can grow stronger. So, I need more than prayer. I need to slow down, and I need to keep space between myself and other drivers. I need to start seeing other people in vehicles, not just the vehicles themselves. I need to see commuting as an opportunity to show Christian hospitality to others. I should also remember that some of the other drivers could very well be members of my husband's church! I need to remember that we're all in this together, and we all need to arrive home safe and happy at the end of the day.

Blessings and Peace,

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Confession 7: I Hate Wal-Mart, But What Would Jesus Do?

I hate Wal-Mart. I mean, I HATE Wal-Mart. I heard it referred to once as "The Evil Empire" and have since adopted that phrase when I discuss it. There are many reasons why Wal-Mart is "The Evil Empire". First, there is the issue of space utilization. Most of the Wal-Mart parking lots I have been in have been one giant asphalt block in which an automobile free-for-all continually takes place. There's no easy way in or out of the parking lot, and most patrons ignore what little faded traffic directions are spray painted onto the pavement. Tensions mount and blood pressure rises before one even enters the store. Things only get worse inside. The only word I can think of to best describe most of my experiences inside a Wal-Mart store is: chaos. Many Wal-Mart stores now have an open area before entering the actual store where carts are stored and continually slammed about, kiddie arcade games blast crazy carnival tunes, and customers attempt to walk in and out at the same time. I'm rarely able to focus on the greeter, and when I can, they tend to look rather haggard and run-down. The aisles of the store are small and crowded. Two of the store's over-sized carts cannot make it comfortably through. Shelves are piled high with densely packed products. The fluorescent lights are dim and make everything look a little dingy. It always seems that everyone, regardless of the amount of goods they are purchasing, feels the need to push a cart, which makes efficient navigating through the store impossible.

I feel panicked and claustrophobic in Wal-Mart stores and have even, on occasion, had to stop what I'm doing and immediately head to the check-out to leave. The check-out lanes are another source of stress and hassle, with some stores having checkers three lanes deep. Goods are placed in plastic bags and spun around to you on a big lazy susan. It is your responsibility to remove the bags from the lazy susan, pay, and take your receipt in the fifteen second interval given to you before the cashier moves on to the next customer. Finally, you must wind your way through the maze of abandoned over-sized carts back to the exit/entrance and spend the next few minutes playing dodge-car as you try and find your way out of the parking lot. I always leave Wal-Mart feeling as if I've been beaten up.

Second, there is the issue of unfair labor practices which continues to dog the Wal-Mart company. The Wal-Mart corporation has been struggling since 2004 to have a class-action lawsuit filed against them on behalf of female employees dismissed. Their attempt at dismissal has proved unsuccessful (see the link below for more information)http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070206/ap_on_bi_ge/wal_mart_discrimination
So, they are now facing a huge discrimination lawsuit for unfair labor practices.

Finally, there is the damage that Wal-Mart has caused to independently owned businesses throughout the United States. Hardest hit have been retail and grocery stores in small-town America. I come from one of those small towns in which Wal-Mart has driven out many long-time businesses. Fortunately, the town in which I grew up has a historic downtown area and has committed itself to supporting local businesses in that area, but it has still lost all but one of its supermarkets and a few retail stores.

One of the most frustrating aspects of Wal-Mart is that you can't beat their prices. Although my husband and I try to avoid Wal-Mart as much as possible, there are items we can buy at Wal-Mart for one dollar or more less than at Target. Those dollars add up. For families who truly struggle financially, Wal-Mart can be a lifesaver. Therein lies my Wal-Mart dilemma, and I find myself wondering, "What would Jesus do?" Would Jesus be more concerned about the awful place that Wal-Mart is, or would he be more concerned that people can get what they need at an affordable price? I have a feeling it would be the latter. But then there is the question of the unfair labor practices. I can't see Jesus pushing that to the side since much of his ministry was on behalf of those who were oppressed or underprivileged.

To be fair to Wal-Mart, they have tried to clean up some of their business practices. They are one of the first big retail corporations to put money and effort into making their stores environmentally friendly. I believe they have changed some of their labor policies to be more proactive in regard to anti-discrimination. They also have a great benefit program for full-time employees, and they're the first business to offer low prices on all generic prescription drugs.

So, what am I to do? Do I shop at Wal-Mart and get more for my dollar, or do I spend a little more and support businesses I feel are better? In the end, I have to admit, that I split the difference. My husband and I go to local grocery stores for food, Target for the everyday stuff, and Sam's Club for bulk items. I realize that this probably makes me a hypocrite and possibly negates much of my previous argument, but it's the best I can do at the moment. Oh, and by the way, I still hate Wal-Mart.

Blessings and Peace,

Monday, February 5, 2007

Confession 6: Keeping the Faith

Faith can be a fickle thing. Easy in good times, more difficult in bad. Sometimes, looking around at the world we've created, I feel the fickleness of faith. Sports Illustrated has a weekly feature in their magazine entitled "Signs of the Apocalypse". This past week's sign of the apocalypse was that a man who owned a strip club in Wisconsin was offering a lifetime membership to his club in exchange for Superbowl tickets. I think I saw another sign of the apocalypse on the Today show this morning when they featured a segment entitled, "Sexpressos", showcasing drive-thru coffee places in Washington state which are more known for their eye-popping servers rather than eye-opening coffee. My husband stated that he felt dumber for having watched that segment, but I felt more disappointed than anything else. Why does getting coffee now have to be a sexual event? It's not that I truly believe the apocalypse is near. I'm not sure I even believe in the apocalypse. I just find it difficult at times to keep my faith in a good, just, and merciful God in the midst of the chaos that surrounds us. Be it the absurdity of our society, showcased so perfectly in this year's Superbowl commercials, or the greater tragedies of war, oppression and poverty which overwhelm so many in our world. Where is God to be found? It's not a crisis of faith, per se, just the longing for a little light to break into a darkness which seems to abound.

It's kind of like the Christmas hymn, "O Come, O Come Emmanuel." Over the past few years, this hymn has become one of my favorites. The tune invokes the sadness and urgency of people living in despair, yet the words move the listener to hope and to rejoice. Like the ancient Israelites, we live in a world that is captive and exiled. There are those who are held captive by violence; those who live in war-torn lands, crime-ridden neighborhoods, or are victims of abuse and neglect. There are those who are held captive by poverty; those who are homeless, those who hunger, those who always go without. Then, there are those who are held captive by disease, both physical, mental, and emotional. In one way or another, we are all held captive in this world, mourning in lonely exile. Yet, as people of faith, we are called to rejoice. Emmanuel shall come...

As a Christian, I believe in this hope. Moreover, I believe that Emmanuel did come, that Jesus is indeed the Messiah and that the Spirit of God is with us still. It just gets so hard to see at times. Part of my problem is that I look for the goodness of man, rather than the goodness of God. I want to believe, like Anne Frank said, that "in spite of everything, people are really good at heart." Yet, if that were the case, why would God have to reconcile himself to humanity? Why would Jesus have had to die? What would be the point of the resurrection? Why would people still be suffering? People cannot be inherently good, which is why we must be redeemed. I cannot reconcile the actions of man to the actions of the God in which I believe. This, I suppose, is where faith comes in. I have to trust that God is there in the midst of the darkness.

Every night, before I put my son down to sleep, I say a little prayer over him, and ask God to keep watch over him through the night. I am, in a sense, handing him over to God each night for safekeeping. Some nights, this is harder than others. Last night was one of those nights. Our son had a coughing fit and, at one point, gave a great gasp. My husband, who had been sleeping, sat bolt upright and asked if our son was o.k. The coughing subsided and I laid him back down to sleep, but I couldn't let him go. I ended up at the foot of the bed, my ear pressed close to his playpen, listening to him breathe. After about ten minutes of this, I felt God pulling me away. I remembered the prayer I had prayed when I first put my son to sleep, and realized that in order to have faith in God, I first had to trust God. And to trust, I had to let go of my own fears and anxiety. God is acting in our world and in my life, I just get too caught up in the bad to see the good. But God's goodness is there, all around. It's in the healing that comes to friends who have been ill. It's in the warmth of time spent with family and friends. It's in the smiling faces of the students I work with. It's in the warm laughter of my son. It's in the warm embrace of my husband.

Yes, faith can be a fickle thing. Yet, it is only when we have faith that we can see the light in the darkness. We can see God working in the world, in spite of the world. We can see God working in our lives, in spite of ourselves.

Blessings and Peace,

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Confession 5: The Family Tree

My Bible study this past month has taken me back through the book of Genesis. In that book, the family tree of the Israelites is established through Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. It's a family tree that impacts and defines many people of faith throughout the world. Millions of people can find their roots there, still, today.

As I was rocking my son back to sleep early this morning, I realized that, like Abraham, Isaac or Jacob, he is in himself a little family tree. Looking at him, I can trace the roots of both mine and my husband's family history. There's the obvious: he has his daddy's eyes and mama's mouth. But he also has his Grandpa Clell's nose, which goes back at least two generations. He has his Great-Grandpa Clell's ornery smile, and his Great-Grandpa William's stubborn chin. When I look at him I see he has his daddy's build, long torso with short legs, which his daddy inherited from his dad, and his dad before that. His long feet come from his Grandma Mikki's side of the family, and the width comes from his Grandpa Ken. His seriousness he gets from his grandmas, and his playfulness from his grandpas. Stubbornness goes back generations on all sides of the families, and his fierce independence comes from at least a few generations of strong-willed German women.

This baby boy is rocked to sleep in the same glider his Great-Grandpa William rocked himself in as he grew older. He naps under an afghan knitted together by his daddy's grandma, and under which his daddy slept. He was laid in the bassinet that his great uncle first used and which every baby on his mama's side of the family has laid in. He was baptized in the same outfit his daddy was baptized in, and lays each day on the same changing table his Grandma Mikki used with his daddy.

Some people have family Bibles. Others have family crests or shields. I find, however, that when I look at my son I see our family history in the flesh. And that is all I need.

Blessings and Peace,

Confession 4: What I Take For Granted

I take a lot for granted. I'm generally pretty aware of this, but there are times when the realization of what I take for granted jars me. Yesterday was one of those days. It was snowing most of the day, light snow, but with enough accumulation to make the commute a bit of a mess. My husband called to report on traffic in our area, and told me that there had been a fatal car accident at the intersection of highway and city street two blocks from where we live. It's a familiar intersection to me, one I cross almost every day in my commute. The thought occurred to me that there was possibly someone in our neighborhood who wouldn't be coming home from work. And I realized then, very clearly, how much I take for granted.

I take for granted that I will arrive home safely each evening. I take for granted that I will come home and have a roof over my head, even if it leaks a bit. I take for granted that there will be food to eat whenever I'm hungry, and sometimes even when I'm not. I take for granted that my paycheck will come every two weeks. I take for granted that my son will always be safe and healthy. I take for granted that when I reach out to touch my husband during the night, he will always be there. I take for granted when I call my parents that both of them will always be on the other end of the line. I take for granted that my sister is only 15 minutes away. I take for granted that my friends will always be there, even if we don't stay in contact as much as we should. I take for granted that I will grow old, and that my husband will grow old with me.

Yet, the truth is, none of these things are promised to me each day. They're little blessings and miracles that surround me all the time, and that should make each day I have with them all the more special.

Blessings and Peace,

My Family

My Family

My Family 2

My Family 2