Tag Archives: praise

Joy in the Storm

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A friend recently asked how I was managing with some challenges and all I could muster was that I was relying on God’s strength.  I said, “All I have is God … and He is more than enough!”  I also said that sometimes you simply keep placing one foot in front of the other.

Of course, my daily devotions spent in the Word of God and prayer are what sustain this weary heart on the difficult days.  Despite the storm clouds that surround, “My anchor holds within the vale.”  I have a deep, wellspring of joy on the inside that is not conditional on my circumstances but is a true gift from God.

It is possible to have peace and joy regardless of the dark clouds that rage.  This world is not our final destination.  During times of struggle, I especially love to listen to some praise and worship music and praise the Lord.  When we worship God, we are inviting His presence into our lives and our situation.  I firmly believe that.  And, how I need Him.

John 16:33 says, “In this world you will have tribulation but be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world.”

Life continually has its valleys and mountain tops.  We cannot prevent either from happening but we can control our responses to each.  We can determine in our hearts that no matter what happens, we will dig deep in His Word for wisdom, instruction, and comfort.  No matter what, we will pray and praise God for Who He is, not just for what He does for us.

When we focus on our blessings more than our problems, there is a shift in our attitude and perspective.  Whatever we focus on becomes bigger.  What would happen if we focused on God more than our difficulties?

What if we recall the countless times in the past that God has delivered us and answered prayer?  What if we praised Him in advance for all that He has planned for our lives?

What if, even through our storm, others could witness God’s strength and power demonstrated in our lives?

Joy is possible in the darkest of nights.

Peace is available too.

Faith is the seed that makes these a reality in our hearts.

…Instead of searching for the nearest exit during your storm, why not praise God for what He will teach you through the challenging circumstances?  Why not ask Him to shine through your darkness to be a blessing to others around you that they may glorify God?

When we are able to change our perspective, we are able to change our reality.

Trust God.  Pray.  Praise.  Watch Him work in your life as only He can.

Rinse.  Repeat.

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Peace in the Midst of the Storm

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Did you know that it is possible to have peace in the midst of the storm?

Psalm 23 has been a consistent “go to” comforting passage for me over the years and still has an unparalleled capacity to calm my deepest fears and quiet my restless soul.

It starts out – “The Lord is my Shepherd.”  Is He your shepherd today, friend?  Ah, what peace floods my soul to know that God not only comforts me, but guides me.  After all, that’s the role of a shepherd.

Verse 2 says, ” He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:  He leadeth me beside the still waters.”

What a tranquil visual that verse contains!  It’s as if God is saying, “Come, quiet your anxious soul.  Rest a while.”

I’m reminded of the New Testament verse that says:

“Take my yoke upon you for my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  ~ Matthew 11:29

Verse 4 says, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” 

If you find yourself in a storm today, I encourage you to read Psalm 23 and really absorb each verse, line by line.  There is rest for your weary soul and nourishment for your thirsty spirit.  God is the Friend, who sticks closer than a brother.  (Proverbs 18:24)

God holds all power in His hands and He is able to calm your storm today.  And should He choose not to calm the seas in your life, He promises to sustain you each step along the way.  Many times we do not understand God’s timing and His ways but we are not called to understand.  We are called to trust and obey instead.

When the storm clouds rage, I challenge you to focus on the One who holds the storm in His safe and loving hands.  Focus on His power and not the power of the clouds that produce rain.  Their power is limited.  That is all they can produce.  God’s power, however, is limitless and knows no bounds.  It is His hands I am choosing to cling to in the storm.

“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.”  ~  Psalm 23:6

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When Heaven is Silent

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Have you ever prayed about something near and dear to your heart for a long time and all your spirit hears are crickets?  Yeah, me too.  It’s times like those that it is easy to believe two lies:  1.)  God doesn’t hear us.  or 2.)  God chooses not to answer.

When I’m feeling spiritually weak, I am prone to believe one or both of these lies.

The Bible says that we walk by faith, not by sight, right? I’m so glad our spiritual walk is based on what the Bible says and not on how we feel or what we see.

“And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us:

And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.” ~ I John 5:14-15

Over the course of my life, I have prayed countless prayers.  Some have taken years before I saw the answers come to fruition.  That just makes the answer that much more sweet.  Ah, the delays.  Why the delays?  We may never know this side of heaven but what we do know is that God wants us to pray, expecting that we will receive.

“Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” ~ Hebrews 4:16

Probably my favorite parable of all is that of the widow and the unjust judge.  She kept beseeching his help and finally because this widow was relentless – She would NOT give up – The judge granted her request!  (lest she weary him)  I love this because it illustrates the power of standing firm in prayer, never giving up – no matter what!  Tenacious praying!

“And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;

Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man:

And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary.

And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man;

Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.

And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith.

And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?

I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” ~ Luke 18:1-8

Now, God does not have the attitude of this unjust judge, but rather, Jesus was drawing a contrast to our heavenly Father.  If this was the response of the unjust judge, what do you think the response of our Abba Father would be when one of His children calls?

I recently received a glimpse of the beginnings of an answer to one of my heart’s cries and I was indeed humbled once again.  Humbled because it showed me that despite my faith, maybe sometimes I doubt whether God is working behind the scenes.

Just because we cannot see the manifestation of the object of our prayer does not mean there isn’t movement!

It is possible that some answers to prayer may not be visible or made known to us during our lifetime.  It may be that future realities will be born out of today’s prayer.  And these realities may be birthed long after we are gone.  That should give us cause to pray even more fervently because I do not believe that prayers die.  I believe that God remembers our petitions to throne of grace and that He will cause His perfect will to be accomplished.  But the vehicle for this to be carried out is prayer.  In this regard, I believe prayer is a great legacy.

So, don’t give up on those prayers that are near to your heart, my friend.  God knows.  He hears.  He sees your tears and knows the cry of your heart.

“Rejoice evermore.   Pray without ceasing.  In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” ~ I Thessalonians 5:16-18

 

Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” ~ James 5:16

 

 

 

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It’s Less About Us & More About Him

The message of the Cross is more about Jesus and less about us (in terms of qualifications or assets we may bring to the table).  The central theme of the Cross is God’s overwhelming and extravagant love for humanity. Hinged on that love, Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice was displayed for all of the world.

The compelling truth regarding the Cross is that you or I do not have to be “good” enough, as if that were even possible, to become sons and daughters of God.  In fact, we know that the Bible says that our righteousness (if there’s anything remotely good about us) is equal to that of filthy rags.  Wow.  Way to deflate the human ego.  But it’s true.  I think most of us already know that, if we are honest with ourselves anyway.

No, the message of the Cross is less about us and all about Jesus.  His character is compassionate, loving, kind, good, thoughtful, patient, longsuffering.

“The Lord is compassionate and merciful, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.”  ~ Psalm 103:8

If we can just grasp those attributes and dwell on those for a moment…It’s overwhelming to consider that the Great God of the Universe thinks about you and me … and prays for us daily.  The Bible says He daily makes intercession for us!  (Romans 8:34)  That is a humbling thought right there, my friend.  He has time for me?  Well, the reality is that God transcends time and space.  His reality is not the same as the confines we, humans, operate in.  He is All Powerful and His power knows no limits, no boundaries.  That is something that is difficult for our finite minds to process.  We must simply believe.

The truth is that none of us are qualified to become followers of Jesus Christ.  Equally true, God calls the unqualified.  That right there should be a liberating thought, my friend.  Grace beckons to our soul to receive such an unattainable and unearned gift.  And because of this great gift, we are then able to show others such grace.  Not that we would become hoarders of God’s gift, but a sieve for it to then flow through.

There is room at the Cross for you today.  It doesn’t matter what your past is.  God can rewrite your life story and create a brand new future for you.  That’s what I love so much about God and the redemptive power of the Cross — It is transformational!

If you fully accept God’s gift of grace, it is impossible to remain the same.  Once you’ve accepted God’s love and understand the sacrifice of His Son, it makes you want to change!

The message of the Cross is all about the love of our Heavenly Father, poured out through Jesus Christ, to reconcile a lost world back to Him.  His message is still the same today.  He is Jehovah, “I Am”, the One Who is the Self-Existent One.  He never changes.  His promises never fail.  When we are faithless, He is faithful.  (Psalm 102)

Rather than focus on your own shortcomings, set your eyes on the unchanging character of God through His Word.  When we study God’s Word, it causes things to fall into the proper perspective.  It sheds light on our darkness.  It gives us wisdom to know which path to pursue.

No, we are not the message of the Cross.  We are merely the objects of God’s unending affection.  In that regard, it makes us kind of special.  But, it’s all about Him.  We are God’s creation and He is the Creator.  May we never allow pride to confuse the two.

“God saved you by His grace when you believed.  And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.  Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.  For we are God’s masterpiece.  He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.”  ~ Ephesians 2:8-9  NLT

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Lobster Bisque & Update

My thoughtful and kind husband was at the grocery store on his way home from work this evening.  He picked up rotisserie chicken and sides for dinner for himself and the kids.  I don’t have much of an appetite these days so I didn’t know what I wanted to eat.  Not much is appealing to me.

He really surprised me when he came home with lobster bisque and saltine crackers.  I must admit I didn’t know if I’d like it.  Boy, was I mistaken!  It is one of my very favorite soups now!!  I have a feeling this may become a standard item hubby picks up for me.  🙂  I told him that he has good taste!  😉  This was a real step up from the standard chicken noodle soup I’ve had for the last week.

My future daughter-in-law picked me up this morning and drove me to my GYN appointment.  During my ER visit last week, the CT scan showed a sizable fibroid tumor, so today was my follow-up regarding this new discovery.  We were there for over two hours!  It certainly was a comprehensive visit, I have to say!

First of all, I love my GYN doctor!  The entire facility is very elegant and modern.  The waiting area is set up with many groupings of comfy couches, chairs and coffee tables.  It has an overall very relaxing feeling.

We discussed the options I have regarding the fibroid tumor and I think a hysterectomy is the best course of action, given my symptoms.  It was great that they could do a sonogram right then as well.  They also took some blood to run a genetic cancer screening test, which will determine whether or not she also removes my ovaries.  Very interesting.

It was a great comfort to me having my future d-i-l by my side throughout the entire visit.  My head was swimming with information, which she helped me recall later.  She works in the ER at an area hospital and is a good person to have by your side.  If we hadn’t bonded before, we have now!  😉  She’s wonderful!  If I had to walk through all of this alone, it would’ve been far more daunting.  I didn’t know I even needed or wanted someone to go with me.  It never crossed my mind really, but when she offered yesterday, I quickly accepted.  I’m so glad I did.  She helped me raise questions to the doctor and just was an overall blessing to me.  (I think my son chose well.)  🙂

Regarding my gall bladder issue, the next step is the Hida scan in about a week and a half.  Depending on what that shows, we’ll see whether or not I will require surgery.  Naturally, I hope not; but whatever the case may be, I just want to feel better!  I just had another round of blood work done a couple days ago also, so the G.I. doctor will review that as well.

So, as soon as I get these “maintenance” issues taken care of, I’ll be good as new!  It is a lot to face all at once but I am so thankful that the Lord always makes a way.  He is a good and loving God who takes care of His children.  I’m so thankful for that!

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The Smell of Rain

The sliding glass door is open leading to the small balcony off the master bedroom.  Rain has been steadily falling since early this morning and the scent is refreshing.  Nothing like the smell of freshly fallen rain, except maybe crunching leaves in autumn up north.  But, today, it is Florida’s version of winter weather – although fairly mild, of course.

The showers not only replenish the earth but invigorate the senses.  This is not our typical rainy season that occurs during our hurricane season from June 1st through November 30th.  It has caused some dead tree limbs to be strewn across the lawn and our swimming pool to be pretty full.  The creek that runs behind our house has become rather full with water gushing as it makes its way over the large rocks, creating a small waterfall.  It’s always so peaceful to look out at the waterfall.

Water is so soothing, isn’t it?  I think of the ocean with its waves that ebb and flow.  Visitors flock to it and find relaxation.  I also think of a warm bath to calm the mind and body.  Waterfalls in the mountains.  People will hike miles just to catch a glimpse of the beauty of majestic waterfalls.  Perhaps the most famous of falls, Niagara Falls, is the destination of thousands of visitors each year.

God certainly knew water would bring mankind peace and nourishment against life’s stresses.

Although it’s very overcast and rainy today, I am thankful for the precipitation.  Everything has a season and today’s season is rain.

Some complain when the weather prevents them from participating in outdoor activities or dulls their mood.  Instead, why not take advantage of a rainy day to do something indoors that you’ve been putting off?  I like to turn on the lights and play some cheerful music on days like these.  It sends a signal to the mind that we still have cause to be happy, despite the weather.

So, today I will enjoy the fresh scent of the rain.  Tomorrow it will be gone.  The sun will be out along with a few clouds, but the rain will be over.

Ah, to breathe in this invigorating fragrance is a beautiful blessing!  You see, there is beauty in the rain.  Yes, unpleasantness too.  Like when you step into a deep puddle.  Isn’t that life?  You take the good and the bad, mix it all together and it is a beautiful gift.

 

 

 

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Before Goliath, a Lion & a Bear

David conquered a lion and a bear before he ever faced the greatest challenge of his lifetime – Goliath.

And prior to governing all of Egypt, Joseph ran Potiphar’s household.

Have you ever considered that previous battles in your own life were preceded by similar ones?  Battles that we survived and ones that we developed stronger faith through.

As I contemplate my own health challenges at the moment and my role as a health advocate for my daughter, Sarah, I am reminded that there were former struggles that prepared me for such a time as this.

As I’ve mentioned previously, I used to take my father to all of his medical appointments and have helped him during his recovery on a number of occasions.  I am his medical power of attorney and have advocated for him countless times.

And, of course, being a parent of three children predisposes one to seeking the best treatment for another.

Prior to this, after the premature death of our mother twenty-three years ago, my younger sister and I became chief health advocates on behalf of our 98 year old grandmother.  (Yes, our maternal grandmother survived our mother by two and a half months!)

Life has a way of revolving in cycles, doesn’t it?  If you live long enough, cycles repeat themselves and you glean important lessons and wisdom.

I am thankful for the lessons of faith, courage, patience and compassion that I have learned over the years.  When we are facing the storms of life, it is very unpleasant and we look for the nearest exit.  But, if we keep our eyes focused on the God who calms the seas, our faith will grow and we will be stronger because of it.

When we were rear ended by a drunk driver in May 2014, I determined very early on that I would focus on the positives.  I was keenly aware that my children were watching my responses to the situation and that by highlighting the pain and negativity, it would only serve to prolong our healing process.

Sometimes we need to reframe a situation, to step back and focus on the unchanging truth of the Bible and God’s promises to be with us.

During difficult times, it is helpful to keep a “Thankfulness” journal.  It is hard to remain discouraged when we keep our sight on God’s blessings.

Each of us have much to be thankful for.  Sometimes it’s a matter of perspective.  We need to realize that while we may have needs and wants, most of us are more wealthy than a large percentage of the world.

Often, the feeling of being out of control is a seed of discouragement.  To counteract this, concentrate on what you can do to improve the situation.

Yes, you can’t change your spouse, but you can work on you.

Yes, you may not be able to avoid surgery, but you can occupy your mind with positive things in the meantime.

Yes, you can’t make the neighbor turn down their loud, obnoxious music, but you can turn on your favorite music and work on a hobby that brings you joy.

Yes, you can’t make your co-workers like you, but you can invest your efforts in being the best employee possible.

I’m not suggesting mind over matter.  I’m suggesting changing your focus/mind in order to change your reality and future.  Life’s realities often begin in the mind.

I am reminded of a story I heard a while back:

A lady who happened to be blind was being relocated to a new room in a retirement home.  A nurse asked her how she felt about this change as she was about to be taken to her new living quarters.  The blind lady replied, “Oh, I absolutely love it!”  The nurse was astounded.  How could you love it already?  The blind lady said, “I already made up my mind that it’s going to be wonderful.”

Her situation hadn’t changed.  She remained blind.  But she was not blind to the fact that she should have a positive mindset in order to be happy.  I think that’s where many of us flub up.  When bad things happen, instead, we tend to focus on all the negative things and lose sight of the possibilities of a positive outcome.

So, if you find yourself in a raging battle today, friend, remember that, “This too shall pass.”

I think that’s another fallacy we often believe.  Life is ever changing.  Bad things come and go.  Good things come and go.  Ebbs and flows.

We will be in a better position to face today’s battle if we remember, like the Israelites did in the Old Testament, all of the previous battles along with their lessons.  They would build monuments in the desert where God performed miracles in previous battles.  We, too, should do the same.  Remind ourselves that the same God who delivered before, will again, deliver us!

“Then they cried unto the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them out of their distresses.”

 ~ Psalm 107:6

 

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Merriest of Christmases to You!

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“For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
    Wonderful Counselor,

                                      Mighty God,
                                                          Everlasting Father,

                                                                                                Prince of Peace.”    

                                                                                                                                      ~ Isaiah 9:6

Just wanted to pop in real quick to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year!

What makes a Merry Christmas?  What are the prime ingredients?

Is it the presents wrapped with beautiful paper and tied with elegant bows?  Is it found in owning the latest in technology?  Or can it be found under the Christmas tree at all?

I have received my Christmas gift already but it wasn’t wrapped or nestled under the glowing lights.

The greatest gift of all is found in knowing the love that God so extravagantly displayed in sending His one and only Son into this depraved world so that He would grow into a man, who would take our sins away and put us in right relationship with the Father.

That is the message of the Gospel.

It isn’t complicated.  It is simple.  God loved.  God gave.

It is up to us whether or not to receive such a priceless gift, the gift of spending eternity with God.

It’s just that simple.

Man tends to complicate matters, but the message of the Bible remains unchanged, unaltered throughout the ages.  It’s the message that you are a valuable soul and God loves you too much to spend eternity apart!

Won’t you accept Him today?

If you already have, then you have all that is necessary to have the Merriest of Christmases!  Jesus, the perfect Gift!

To top it off, on a personal note…

Our family has sold our house and recently moved 1,000 miles to be near our grown son.  We could not be happier to be spending our first Christmas together in the same area.  (More on our big move to come…)

To all my WP friends, new or old, here’s wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a happy and healthy New Year in 2015!

“And, now my brothers, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospers.”  ~ III John 2

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We Have a Contract!!!

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Special thanks to all who’ve prayed for our house to sell!!  God has answered prayer and we are ever grateful!!!

As most of you know, we’ve lived 1,000 miles from our grown son for five years now and it’s been my prayer for most of that time to move back!  I feel like I’ve missed so much!  He’s 26 and we’re so excited to live closer very soon!!

The real estate market has been sluggish, especially during this time of year.  So, that’s been one challenge we’ve faced.  However, the greatest challenge has been being separated from my husband, who began his new job in early September where we will be moving to!  We’ve been married for 19 years and have never been apart more than two weeks at a time!  This has been so hard on us, despite all the modern technology advances (i.e. Skype, texting, phone calls, etc.).  He’s flown here and I’ve flown there, but nothing replaces sharing daily life together!

Our two younger kids are 15 and 17 and they are overjoyed that we will all be reunited very soon and can move on with our lives!  (The umpteen showings were really beginning to wear on all of us!)  They’ve handled this transitional period very well and are always a big help.

So, now the rush is on to find an apartment to lease until we do our homework and find a house to purchase.  I’ve narrowed it down to four!  🙂  I’ve done the legwork and now my husband will investigate further.  Then, the next thing is to reserve the Uhaul.  Yes, we’re “Do it Yourself-ers”!  🙂  Fortunately, we’ve gotten rid of a lot prior to listing our house, done preliminary packing and are selling some furniture.  I’m anticipating a smooth move with far less than we moved into this house with.  We’ve moved quite a few times over the years, so we have this down to a science.

The home inspection is this weekend and the septic tank inspection is Monday, so we’ll be glad when those are behind us.  Although, we do not anticipate any issues.  It’s just nice when that hurdle is over.

We will be moved just two weeks before Christmas!  What a Christmas present!!  I can’t think of a better one!  All of our children together!  My husband and I absolute love the Christmas season, so this will be really special!

Just wanted to pop in long enough to share our awesome news of the Lord’s provision!!

(I’ve been interrupted every two seconds by my teenie boppers while writing this, so pardon if it’s choppy!  Some days I think I have preschoolers.  😉  These are the days I will miss soon.  My daughter graduates from high school in May and will be in college next year.  And my 6′ 15 yr. old is growing faster than I can believe!)

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I’m Still Here…

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So, it turns out I haven’t dropped off the face of the earth, friends!! Our family continues going to physical therapy three times a week as we recover from our car accident in May. We’re all doing fairly well…still in pain every day … but praying our way through and believing for God to bring total and complete healing!

THE BIG NEWS IS …

No, I’m not pregnant! Ha! I hope not at age 40 something! …

The real big news is … we are moving five states away (1,000 miles!) to be closer to our grown son!!! Those who’ve followed my blog for some time know how much this mother has missed her #1 son (for 5 long years now)! God has opened the door for my husband to transfer his job and we are so excited about this breakthrough for our family!!!!! Can you sense our excitement?!?!

I should specify how huge of a breakthrough this really is … First of all, for over four years my husband has been against the idea of moving. I learned a valuable lesson throughout this process…Take the desires of my heart to the Lord in prayer, leave them there and keep quiet. This has not been easy, I have to say. (especially considering how badly I’ve wanted this to happen!) But, God is faithful and I will be ever grateful to Him for opening this door for us!!

Our house went on the market today and we are praying for a speedy and solid sale!

Would you agree with me in prayer? I’d definitely appreciate it. Our prayer is for a quick sale and full asking price. There is nothing too hard for God!

We’ve been working feverishly getting our house ready to put on the market, packing extra things away, doing lots of touch up painting, etc. We laid 20 bags of mulch the other day in the front flower beds and it still wasn’t enough. Looks like we’ll need about 10-15 more! My husband only has a couple projects to complete and we will have this exhausting phase behind us! The photographer came out yesterday to take pictures of the house and install the lockbox. Exciting stuff!!!

As soon as the dust settles, I’ll return to blogging regularly but I wanted to check in with my WordPress friends! Miss you guys! God bless! 🙂

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